Ahly Super Cup underdogs despite six titles
20 February 2015, 11:47
Johannesburg - Egyptians Al Ahly will be CAF Super Cup underdogs against Algerians Entente Setif on Saturday even though they have won the one-off match a record six times.
Setif are favoured because the match is being staged in Algeria and home advantage has proved crucial in most of the annual games.
Since the CAF Champions League winners began hosting the fixture in 1996, 17 of the 19 matches have ended in home victories.
And with only 1,000 of the 25,000 tickets for the showdown at Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida, 45 kilometres south of Algiers, going to Ahly supporters, Setif have a huge advantage.
"We cannot deny it will be more difficult to achieve victory because the match is in Algeria," Ahly football director and former star Wael Gomaa admitted to the Egyptian media.
"However, we are determined to win no matter what the circumstances. We have a great African record to uphold."
Ahly have won a record 19 CAF titles, lifting the Champions League trophy eight times, the Super Cup six times, the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup four times and the Confederation Cup last year.
Nearest CAF rivals Zamalek, another Cairo club, have won nine titles.
Winning the second-tier Confederation Cup last December on away goals against Ivorians Sewe Sport secured Ahly a Super Cup slot.
Veteran striker Emad Meteb scored the title-winning goal six minutes into stoppage time in Cairo and is in the 20-man Super Cup squad.
Fellow striker Peter Ebimobowei, a recent signing from Nigerian club Bayelsa United, was also picked after recovering from a muscle injury.
Setif won the richer, more prestigious Champions League last season, also on away goals, after a 3-3 aggregate stalemate with Democratic Republic of Congo side V Club.
The Super Cup did not exist when the 'Black Eagles' were previously African champions in 1988 and Algeria are seeking a first success in a match won nine times by Egyptian clubs.
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Champions League success led to Setif being voted CAF Club of the Year, Kheireddine Madoui voted Coach of the Year and El-Hedi Belameiri and Akram Djahnit finishing runners-up in the Africa-based Footballer of the Year.
Madoui reluctantly accepts the tag of favourites for the $75,000 (66,000 euros) winners' prize with the losers banking $50,000.
"Playing at home in front of our supporters does not guarantee victory against a club like Ahly," he stressed to Algerian reporters.
"Ahly boast experience, a winning mentality and great resilience."
Goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, midfielders Hossam Ashour, Hossam Ghaly and Walid Soliman and Meteb are seasoned Ahly CAF campaigners.
France-born Belameiri could be the Setif star to watch having shared the 2014 Champions League Golden Boot after scoring six goals.